A top advisor for Iran’s Defense Minister, Alireza Saeidabadi, has published an article calling on the government to prepare for nuclear war. Its publication on a Ministry of Intelligence and Security website means it is an analysis that the government wants distributed and it is likely a preparation for the day when Iran declares that escalating threats require it to build nuclear weapons.
“But if the United States launches an unconventional attack, Iran needs to respond with a nuclear strategy,” Saeidabadi writes. His analysis focuses on a potential nuclear strike on Iran by the U.S. or Israel, but the vague term of “unconventional attack” is of special concern. The Iranian regime has consistently accused the U.S., Israel and other countries of sponsoring terrorism on its soil, actions which could conceivably be described as an act of “unconventional” warfare justifying a nuclear response. Saeidabadi’s call to prepare for such a confrontation implies that Iran needs to assemble the capacity to quickly produce nuclear weapons, if not actually build them.
Saeidabadi’s analysis is helping the regime set the stage for when it will declare that its “civilian” nuclear energy program must be converted into a weapons program in order to protect itself. This has been the strategy all along. As far back as January 27, 1992, a scientific advisor to President Rafsanjani flatly stated, “We should like to acquire the technical know-how and the industrial facilities required to manufacture nuclear weapons, just in case we need them. This does not mean that we currently want to build them or that we have changed our defense strategy to include a nuclear program.” In other words, the creation of nukes isn’t completely ruled out, it’s just a matter of if and when they are necessary.
More recently in September 2009, President Ahmadinejad struck the same tone. When a reporter asked if Iran would ever build a nuke, he said “We don’t need nuclear weapons. Without such weapons, we are very much able to defend ourselves.” The reporter followed up by saying, “people will remark that you did not say no.” Ahmadinejad’s final response on the matter was “You can take from this whatever you want, madam.”
Article 10 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allows signatories to withdraw from the treaty if “extraordinary events…have jeopardized the supreme interests of the country” and build nuclear weapons if they give 90 days notice. Iran will likely exercise this option in order to say it is acting legally in the hopes of giving Russia, China and other friendly countries some leverage with which to oppose U.N. action. The regime may even use an Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities as its pretext. This move would also help Iran shift the blame for its withdrawal to the West and especially Israel.
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